Vale Tim Mulherin

September 7, 2020

Mackay has today lost one of its true heroes.

An Australian Labor Party stalwart and fearless advocate for both Mackay and regional Queensland, Tim Mulherin served as Member for Mackay for over 20 years and as Deputy Leader of the Opposition from 2012 to 2015. Tim died this morning on 7 September 2020 aged 63 after a battle with cancer.

Tim’s legacy of achievements in this time was vast, and his impact was felt across the entire community. From the labour and trade union movement, to arts, health, sports and the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community – there was no part of Mackay that Tim didn’t touch.

Tim was a Labor man through and through; he truly believed in Labor values. He helped establish Labour Day on many occasions, leading marches for worker’s rights, and he knew the value and dignity in having work, and believed in a fair day’s pay for a fair day’s work.

He was a man who had his eye on the future. He knew we must keep up with, and, where possible, be ahead of change. He was one of the key advocates for the establishment of the Queensland University of Technology (QUT) sugar research laboratory on the grounds of Racecourse Mill. He could see the potential for diversification of the sugar industry beyond sucrose.

Modern day Mackay has been shaped by Tim’s work – and the benefits we all enjoy today can be seen all around. He delivered significant projects for the Mackay region including Bluewater Quay, Bluewater Lagoon, Forgan Bridge replacement, Edmund Casey Bridge, Mackay Entertainment and Convention Centre, Mackay Showgrounds redevelopment, Botanical Gardens and the Mackay Base Hospital rebuild.

He helped build the new police station in Sydney Street and establish the Central Queensland University campus in Mackay. He kept Mackay’s roads and bridges modern to improve safety and the supply chain, and he played an early role in the Mackay Ring Road stage 1. 

After the Mackay 2008 flood which encroached into the hospital he was determined to rebuild and modernise the facility which we all benefit from today.  

Tim was the first convenor in Mackay for the Cancer Council yearly doorknock. After politics he was appointed chair of the Mackay Health and Hospital Service (MHSS) and took up positions as vice-president of the Harrup Park Country Club and on the board of Mercy College.

A friend to many including to myself and my husband Frank, Tim would be known to always go above and beyond for his community. He was humble, kind and never sought any special accolades for his work. Tim was a personal mentor to me when I entered politics and I admired his dedication, integrity and the way he led by example. He was admired by his colleagues for his passion and was known to so many of us as an advocate who would never stop fighting for his community to get things done. Tim was a wealth of knowledge and freely gave his time to support me at any time of the day. He never rested his political mind and I have fond memories talking politics with Tim while enjoying his famous BBQ steaks and a glass of red.

Anyone who knew him would say that Tim always had time for them. He cared about others and wanted to give those struggling a helping hand. Over the years he was patron to many organisations. So much Tim did quietly for people in need will never be known publicly as he never sort recognition when helping people in distress.

And, of course, he was a dedicated family man – a wonderful father to Declan, Liam and Rory and a devoted husband to Erin. His family was his life.

Aside from his beautiful family, his time serving his community as the Member for Mackay was the greatest honour of his life. Even with his illness, he worked tirelessly to the very end, wanting to give back to the community he loved so much.

Across Mackay today there will be deep sadness and I too share in that grief.

He loved this community and his legacy will never be forgotten.

We will miss you Tim.